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How Real Madrid Influence is Affecting La Liga and Other European Leagues

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How Real Madrid Influence is Affecting La Liga and Other European Leagues
Salvatore Laporta/Associated Press

There's plenty of positivity surrounding Los Blancos at present. In the space of a week they have closed the gap at the top of the league and qualified for their 39th Copa del Rey final.

The players are understandably excited, without getting carried away at the prospect of winning a number of trophies. "It’s great to reach my first final with Real Madrid, the first of many I hope," tweeted Gareth Bale.

Carlo Ancelotti is happy to get to the cup final, admitting that it was meaningful if not a priority in comparison with other tournaments. "Qualifying for the final was one of the goals of the season," the Italian told reporters, per Football Espana:

The Cup is important because all the teams have fought hard to reach the final. We play all the competitions. It’s true that this was the lowest on our minds. We want the Champions League and the League but reaching a final is always a good thing.

The team is playing well, built on the foundation of solid defensive work. Ancelotti's style is working and the squad are adapting to his fresh ideas.

His new signings are having varying levels of success, but all are playing a part as the season gets to the final push.

What's even more interesting is that the majority of those that left the club in the summer are also enjoying themselves.

Former Real Madrid Castilla sweeper Rafael Benitez is celebrating reaching a cup final as well as coach of Napoli. His squad, which features ex-Madridistas Jose Callejon, Raul Albiol and Gonzalo Higuain, made the Coppa Italia final after overcoming a first-leg defeat to Roma.

No one at the club has started more Serie A matches than Albiol, as he has already featured in eight more games than he did in the whole of last season, per ESPN FC.

Callejon has an impressive nine league goals from a wide position, averaging around a goal every two matches per WhoScored.com. He netted the opener on Wednesday in the cup and put in a Man of the Match performance.

Their leading goalscorer Higuain has 16 goals in 24 appearances across both the domestic and Champions League. He plans to emulate Diego Maradona by winning the World Cup and then winning the Scudetto. "This is an important moment for me and for my career," El Pipita told La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Goal.com). "I want to stay in Naples for a long time - here I'm going to be a king."

The trio have been joined in Italy by Michael Essien, who arrived at Milan in January. He is reunited with Kaka at the San Siro. The Brazilian is playing regularly and has five league goals.

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Milan's league position is extremely poor, but individually the two can feel a sense of pride that their careers are turning once again. And with new manager Clarence Seedorf there's reason for optimism.

Ricardo Carvalho's Monaco are through to the last eight of the French Cup and sit five points behind PSG in Ligue 1. They may have spent big but they will be pleased with the way their purchases have fit together.

In England, Mesut Ozil has been instrumental in Arsenal's transformation from top-four chasers to title-challengers, though he has faded a little recently, perhaps due to the lack of a winter break.

Jose Mourinho leads the widest Premiership title race in years, his Chelsea team are in pole position and he is entertaining the British public at the same time.

Madrid have always had a number of the best players and managers, but a change of scenery or a fresh challenge can always reinvigorate those who have begun to become stale or complacent.

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